For over the last 15 years Creative Director extraordinaire, Giovanni Bianco founder of namesake agency Giovanni Bianco Studio 65, has taken on a who’s who roster of clients including Versace, Miu Miu, DSquared2, Pepe Jeans, Salvatore Ferragamo and the grand madame herself, Madonna. He’s partnered with everyone from Steven Klein to Steven Meisel and created memorable ads and editorial for fashions most prestigious magazines such as W Magazine, V Magazine, Vogue Italia and Vogue Japan. We sat with the Creative Director known for his colorful sensibilities as well as personality to talk about how he started, how the agency has evolved, Milan, New York, moving at the speed of light, books and food.
BY KENNETH RICHARD
Giovanni, thanks for taking the time to chat. We would love to hear how you got started?
Many many years ago when I was 23, I decided to move from by birthplace of Brazil to Milan. I started doing graphic design work in Milan for different types of companies, mainly packaging, logos, coordinate images that type of thing. And while I was there I got lucky because I met Stefano and Domenico when they were creating their second line D&G so I started working with them doing logo, catalogue, all the visual. And that’s the moment I started working with fashion. Before working with Stefano and Domenico, it’s so funny, I really didn’t think about fashion. I didn’t know what was the difference between Giorgio Armani and Versace, you know what I mean? I was spending most of my time in Milan on the arts side and thinking about furniture design, design in art, but zero fashion. I have to admit I look at pictures back in the day now and I see how I dressed and it was just terrible, and I really didn’t care about fashion. But then I met Stefan and Domenico and started working with the guys, my eyes opened and I really started to see that I loved fashion.
Well it seems that fashion loves you too, so how long did you work with the boys at Dolce & Gabbana?
I worked with them for 3 seasons, and then I started doing more freelance and working for many other clients. At that time I had a business partner, Susanna Cucco, she’s Italian. I think it lasted for 3 or 4 seasons, after so many years working in this business I don’t really remember the exact time – maybe you can write and research the dates because I’m not good at the dates and years. I’m an old man!
How did you end up transitioning out of Milan to New York to open an agency?
I’m dyslexic, and I have difficulties with language, so I thought if I move to New York I could overcome it a bit. At that time I started to work with Steven Klein and really liked working with him. He’s a photographer and I’m in graphic design and that moment I started doing research for him. Somehow I decided at the time, that it would be a great time for a new experience in my life and I should move to New York where Steven was working. And you know, that changed my life. It was completely different. When you start working in America, you look at your business in a completely different way than when you work in Milan.
When you work in Milan you work more just for Italian businesses, when you work in New York you’re working globally.
How do you think that dyslexia has helped or challenged you?
It’s very difficult for me, language, because my father and my mother are Italians living in Brazil and they spoke only Italian dialect, so not really Italian. And it would be very confusing for me because I would speak Portuguese, so I mix all the different languages. But I have a great talent for numbers and images. I have this perfect vision for image and a talent for numbers, which has served me well.
So you come to New York, you have a good working relationship with Steven, what’s the first thing that you do?
The first thing I did with Steven I did before New York, when I use to live in Milan. I had a Brazilian client and we did advertising for their jeans campaign that happened more than 15 years ago. After that I moved to New York and we started doing so many different things, but I think the first thing I did in New York with SK was research for different editorials. Such a big amount of different jobs.
Then how did the agency form?
At that time I used to work in my house. Right after I moved from Milan to New York, I kept two clients Dsquared2 and MaxMara. Between them, I would work with Steven doing the editorials, and step-by-step with my agent the business kept growing. We were able to grow out of my house to a studio and made my business better and better.
And here you are today with a very thriving business. What type of changes have you seen in the industry since arriving in New York?
Time. Everything is for yesterday. The client gives you a briefing today and you need to prepare everything for tomorrow. In the past you’d have a little bit of more time. Everything is digital now that makes things faster. I started working with pictures without computers by hand, working with the layout and selecting the pictures, it’s completely different! You didn’t have a computer, you needed time. And now that the pictures are digital, the layout is already done; everything is needed in 24 hours! That’s the big change. Because everything is more global, sometimes it needs to be more commercial also. You lose a little bit of creativity, freedom and the beautiful way of thinking that the artist has. Now most of the things are related to bags, sunglasses… The media now has changed too, everything is so fast, Instagram, Facebook, it’s so crazy.
I’m not saying that it’s good, or bad, I’m just saying it’s different. It’s a new era and you need to respect that the new generation, the people nowadays have a different view about it. When I started in this business it was a different way of thinking and I tell all the young people that work with me how different it is. Everything now is so fast.
You mentioned Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Is part of the difference an increased demand for images and content and how are you evolving to address that?
Now you don’t only need to think about the advertising, but you need to think about everything. How the advertising will react with the social media. How it will all work online. Before you didn’t have video and now the first thing and most important thing is video. Print is going to be less and less important. Of course, for some clients, Instagram is so important, how are you going to launch your advertising? Everything has changed. It’s fascinating and it’s so different. It’s also nice because you need to think more and you’re working fast to put all the components together. Before you were just shooting a beautiful image and it was only going to be printed on paper for newspaper and magazine. And nowadays, you have so many different ways to communicate your image.
Have you adjusted your staff to address that?
If you would like to work in this business nowadays, you first need to understand what’s happening in the world and what’s happening with the new generation and how the new consumer relates with the world. And of course this made my agency change. Now I have six people working only in the interactive area. It changed a lot, especially in the last 5 years.
Are you finding that brands are now layering in additional campaigns to address the demand for content and is this an opportunity for you?
Yeah, some clients have added resort and pre-collection advertising, and some clients that have accessories as a big part of their sales so have added more accessory images to their advertising. The big companies have different components, perfumes, sunglasses, bags, such a variety of products. More and more and more, it’s different parties, fashion shows, events. Content it is so important now. You need to create content for clients Instagram, Facebook, for different media forces. I’m a really open guy and I really respect what the new generation is doing for the business.
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
I love working with books. I can stop everything for books. I’m a collector and crazy about them. I love the smell, I really freak out when it is something related to books. And I’m very excited with a new fashion book project I’m launching in November. It’s a personal project. It’s crazy times now but we’ll talk again in November about it. I like to create projects that are not directly related to my work.
What would you like people to ask you in an interview?
I like food and sadly I’m on a diet right now. But I like when people ask me about that because I really love food.
Okay so let’s talk about food, tell me about food.
I love it. Yesterday I went to this Brazilian friend of mine and he had this amazing little chocolate ball, that is a traditional sweet from Brazil called “Brigadeiro” and it looked so delicious but I couldn’t eat it since I’m on a diet. I also can’t eat pasta, bread, what it makes the worst for me, since I’m also Italian. But I love when people ask me about food.
Perhaps a food book is in your future.
Certainly, I hope so!